Marcus Claudius Marcellus: Difference between revisions

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Following his victory at Casilinum, Marcellus was sent to Sicily, upon which Hannibal had set his sights. Upon arrival, Marcellus found the island in disarray. [[Hieronymus of Syracuse|Hieronymus]], the new ruler of the Roman-ally [[Kingdom of Syracuse]], had recently come to the throne on [[Hiero II of Syracuse|his grandfather]]'s death and fallen under the influence of the Carthaginian agents Hippocrates and [[Epicydes]]. He then declared war against the Romans after the Carthaginian victory at the [[Battle of Cannae]]. However, Hieronymus was soon deposed; the new Syracusan leaders attempted a reconciliation with Rome, but could not quell their suspicions and then aligned themselves with the Carthaginians. In 214 BC, the same year that he was sent to Sicily, Marcellus attacked the city of [[Leontini]], where the two Syracusan rulers were residing. After successfully storming the city, Marcellus had 2,000 Roman deserters (who had been hiding in the city) killed, and moved to lay [[Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC)|siege to Syracuse]] itself. At this point, several cities in the province of Sicily rose in rebellion against Roman rule. The siege lasted for two long years, partly because the Roman effort was thwarted by the military machines of the famous inventor [[Archimedes]]. Meanwhile, leaving the bulk of the Roman legion in the command of [[Appius Claudius Pulcher (consul 212 BC)|Appius Claudius]] at Syracuse, Marcellus and a small army roamed Sicily, conquering opponents and taking such rebellious cities as [[Helorus]], [[Megara Hyblaea|Megara]], and [[Herbessus]].
 
After Marcellus returned and continued the siege, the Carthaginians attempted to relieve the city, but were driven back. Overcoming formidable resistance and the ingenious devices of Archimedes, the Romans finally took the city in the summer of 212 BC. Plutarch wrote that Marcellus, when he had previously entered the city for a diplomatic meeting with the Syracusans, had noticed a weak point in its fortifications. He made his attack at this fragile spot, using a night attack by a small group of hand-picked soldiers to storm the walls and open the gates.<ref name=Smith/> During the fighting, Archimedes was killed, an act Marcellus regretted.<ref name="death">{{cite web |first=Chris |last=Rorres|url = http://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/Death/Histories.html|title = Death of Archimedes: Sources|publisher = [[Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences]]|accessdate = 2010-09-28}}</ref> Plutarch writes that the Romans rampaged through the city, taking as much of the plunder and artwork as they could find. This has significance because Syracuse was a Greek city filled with Greek culture, art and architecture. Much of this Greek art was taken to Rome, where it was one of the first major impacts of Greek influence on Roman culture.<ref name=Lendering/>
 
Following his victory at Syracuse, Marcellus remained in Sicily, where he defeated more Carthaginian and rebel foes. The important city of [[Agrigentum]] was still under Carthaginian control, though there was now little the Carthaginian leadership could do to support it, as the campaigns against the Romans in Spain and Italy now took precedence. At the end of 211 BC, Marcellus resigned from command of the Sicilian province, thereby putting the praetor of the region, Marcus Cornelius, in charge. On his return to Rome, Marcellus did not receive the triumphal honours that would be expected for such a feat, as his political enemies objected that he had not fully eradicated the threats in Sicily.<ref name=Smith/>